Morris (right), chief architect at NASA’s Glenn Research Center,
describes elements of the center’s 20-year master plan to reporters
Monday. (West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)
approves Glenn’s master plan
By Kevin Kelley
Published Sept. 12, 2007
headquarters in Washington has approved a master plan that promises
an estimated $150 million worth of capital improvements to the Glenn
Research Center and its Plum Brook Station near Sandusky.
“We look at the horizon and see a very promising future
with exciting work here at NASA Glenn, and we want to prepare our
facilities for the future challenges,” Joe Morris, Glenn’s chief
Glenn officials who announced the approval Monday
stressed that the center’s master plan was formed in union with
the space agency’s overall mission — to pioneer the future in space
exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautical research.
Just a few years ago, Glenn had more employees than
work for them to do and faced the prospect of more job losses. But
the center’s role was strengthened in June 2006 when it was awarded
the responsibility of developing the service module of the Orion
spacecraft, which will replace the space shuttle. Glenn was also
given lead responsibilities for the upper stage of the Ares I rocket
that will launch the Orion capsule.
Bill Wessel, associate director at Glenn, said the
center has carved out its place in the space agency in terms of
expertise in power, propulsion and communication.
“We have a great future not only in regard to work
we have on our plate now but looking into the future,” Wessel said.
Projects that make up the master plan will be implemented
incrementally over 20 years, officials said. Funding for each project
will require authorization through the agency’s budgeting process.
“This master plan is meant to be a framework for the
capital investment planning over the next 20 years,” Morris said.
Certain projects may be funded by NASA partners with
non-NASA funds, officials said.
A new campus center at Glenn, where various project
teams will be located to promote coordination, marks the cornerstone
of the master plan. A Space Flight Collaboration office building
and conferencing center are scheduled to be built in 2010 at the
The part of the Glenn campus north of Brookpark Road,
known as the North Area, is expected to house an office park for
This area is located within the boundaries of Fairview
Park. The announcement in January 2006 that two office buildings
on Brookpark Road would be closed led to a financial crisis in that
suburb. Fairview Park Mayor Eileen Patton said her city would have
lost $631,000 in income tax if those buildings were closed.
But the plan now is for those buildings to remain
open until 2010. The likely scenario is that the buildings will
then be demolished to make room for new office buildings.
But Morris did not rule out leaving those buildings
up, at least temporarily. However, he said real estate experts Glenn
has consulted with have said those facilities, built in the 1960s,
are “Class C” office buildings. The optimal use of that space would
be involve the construction of modern office buildings, he said.
Glenn’s Visitor Center would be relocated to the North
Area and expanded to include a new aerospace education center that
would promote NASA’s education mission.
According to a NASA document, the aerospace education
center is in phase two of four phases of the master plan implementation,
with funding expected to come from state and/or other sources.
The plan also calls for the consolidation of facilities.
That means that two decades from now, the Glenn campus will have
fewer but more efficient and environmentally sustainable structures,
A new entrance at Glenn that will improve campus security
is scheduled to be built in 2008.
Enhancements to the Space Power Facility, where NASA’s
Orion vehicle will undergo testing, are the main elements of the
Plum Brook Station master plan. NASA has also expressed interest
in leasing property at that facility as well as establishing some
type of space-themed tourist attraction.
Plum Brook officials would also like to see a general
aviation airport built near the site so space flight hardware could
be more easily transported there for testing. However, no funding
for an airport has yet been secured or identified.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who has worked in recent years
to save and obtain funding for Glenn, said the master plan ensures
that the center will be part of the space agency’s long-term plans.
“This master plan paves the way for a strong and stable
NASA workforce,” Kucinich said in a statement. “The upgrades to
facilities as well as the new buildings will create opportunities
to bring still more jobs to Northeast Ohio.”